I have a dirty little secret.  I made candles for Christmas presents this year and I used something unspeakable to make them.  Something that I don't even allow into my pantry.  Something buttery and vegetable-y and shelf-stable.  Want to know what it was?


Crazy, huh?  Well, it turns out that's not too crazy if you burn soy candles already.  Crisco's ingredient list includes soybean oil and palm oil, along with a few preservatives.  These are the same ingredients as most soy wax candles, so it's not such a shock to use Crisco in place of pricey soy wax flakes for your candle making adventures.  To harden it up, I used a bit of paraffin wax.

I used to be quite the candle junkie until I started taking a good, hard look at what chemicals I was using in my house. It wasn't until I started to research what those fancy scented candles had in them that I decided to back off on my constant burning of them. With articles like this one popping up even in mainstream media telling of the dangers of synthetic fragrance oils and chemicals, I decided it was time to ditch the candles.  These are also some good journal articles on research into indoor air quality: This one (regarding infant and maternal health when exposed to the VOCs in air fresheners) and this one (which focuses on VOCs from cleaning chemicals).

There is also concern among many that the paraffin in candles is very dangerous stuff, too. While I won't disagree with them, I thought that it was more important to focus on getting rid of the synthetic fragrances and carcinogenic compounds than to get rid of the paraffin. It's the fake scents and sprays that make my eyes red and my throat swell up, not paraffin.  Maybe someday I'll be able to afford beeswax candles, but until then, I'll compromise with soy-based candles with natural and essential oil scents instead. One step at a time!
makes:six 1/2 pint candles
takes:15 minutes; 2-4 hours drying time
cost: about $1.75 each
1 jar unflavored all-vegetable shortening (48oz.)
1/2 lb. paraffin wax or 8 oz. beeswax
6 jars (half-pint)
6 candle wicks (here's how to make your own)
essential oils
natural scents listed below

1 cup crisco
1 T. paraffin wax or 1/2 oz. beeswax
1 half-pint jar
1 wick

Put the paraffin in the top of a double boiler or in a pyrex measuring cup.  Place it over the double boiler or pan of water.

Turn stove to high heat and let the paraffin completely melt.  Add the crisco and let it melt completely.

Turn the heat off and add your essential oils/scents.

Pour the wax into the jar(s) and put a wick in the center of each.  wrap the excess wick around a pencil or chopstick to hold the wick in place until the candle hardens.

Once hardened, snip the excess wick and add a label if you'd like.  I've made a few labels that fit onto a regular canning lid and matching front labels here.

Lemon Basilmint
colored with turmeric
1/4 tsp. turmeric
7   drops basil essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Spice Shop
colored with coffee and cocoa
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
10 drops cardamon essential oil
10 drops cinnamon essential oil
10 drops black pepper essential oil
(if you don't have the essential oils, you can use 1/4 tsp. each of the real spices)

Northern Forest
colored with spirulina powder
1/4 tsp. spirulina
10 drops pine needle essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
7   drops orange essential oil

Rose Garden
colored with beet powder or hibiscus
1/4 tsp. beet or hibiscus powder
20 drops rose geranium essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
4 drops basil essential oil

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